Monday, October 31, 2011

the fun of being an artist

I meant to publish this last night, but by the time I got to the proofreading stage, it was too late and I had to get to bed.


I'm officially a little Beethoven-crazy right now, thanks to the Bangor Symphony. I can never get enough Beethoven, but the BSO has me overdosing on his music (if that's even possible). Thanks, guys...

Monday: For the last couple weeks, we've had other teachers for Preparing for Professional Life--first Craig Schneider, and then Brigitte Clavette--as Trudy has been recovering from surgery. Having different people teach a course is interesting (in a good way), especially if you don't normally have them as teachers. You get to experience different styles, different personalities.

This week, we also had a guest speaker: Silas Robinson, who's an NBCCD grad and the founder of Lift Personal Fitness. Silas originally started out in graphics, which is a stable industry. But by the time he graduated, he'd switched to ceramics, choosing to do what he loved, despite the fact that it isn't as financially predictable as graphics. He's also really into fitness, and he worked at several gyms, before founding his own. He talked about his beginnings, getting the business started, the look of a business plan, and a lot of other things.

Drawing was a ridiculously short class this week. Adam took us to a show opening at the Playhouse gallery, and after we'd bombarded the artist with questions, we were free to enjoy the rest of the evening. Hour and a half--done. One of the Photography Class of '11 grads was photographing the event, and afterward he and I walked back in the direction of the college (he had to catch the next bus), talking the whole way--about photography, and what we'd been up to since the Spring.

I spent the rest of the evening putting the finishing touches on my independent study project.

Tuesday: I spent the day doing about a million little things. That morning we had a meeting to brainstorm ideas for the haunted studio competition, which we'd just found out about on Monday. And the competition was on Thursday (none of us were thrilled--that meant that we only had two-and-a-half days to prepare).

I spent the rest of the day working on my drawing homework (theme: the past, using texture; my idea: drawings depicting what people did in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries paired with photos of my ancestors; the texture is part of the different scenes) and editing my business plan for Preparing for Professional Life.

In the evening, I walked over to Dance Fredericton to observe a couple of classes. My next independent study project is going to be on dance photography, and I'm going to photograph some of the students at the school. This week I just watched the dancers and took notes.

Wednesday: That day I had an assessment with Drew. He's really happy with the work that I'm doing--even when it doesn't exactly turn out. The important thing is that I understand the information and ideas that are being presented in class, and that I'm learning, including learning from my mistakes. Check, check and check.

The night before, I'd somehow gotten it into my head that I had class the next day (Assessment Week usually finds a way to screw me up), so I was in the photo studio around 8:30 that morning. I filled the time before and after my assessment by doing homework: I did a mounting assignment for Output, found a model release that I can use--and that complies with Canadian law--put the finishing touches on the artist statement for my independent study project, and worked on the iWeb website that I'm doing for Output.

Thursday: HAUNTED STUDIO DAY! That day, I really was to be at the college by 9:00. And unlike last year's haunted studio, I was one of the actors. I was the one scaring people with my camera flash from what's known as "the Star Trek door" (there are two openings directly across from each other, and to go in one and out the other you have to turn the revolving wall--if that description makes any sense).

One of my classmates, Anne-Marie, did my makeup:

The first tour was the best: that was the only time that I actually scared someone. My victim was the store manager, Mitch. When I hit the 'test' button on my flash, he jumped. "Oh, geeze!" After he went around the corner, I turned around and silently giggled into the wall. The other two tours were a bit of a let-down: I didn't scare anyone.

When I finally came out after the third, and final, tour left, the studio was filled with fake smoke. I could barely see. However, once we pushed the windows open, the smoke disappeared really fast. We also did a group photo in our costumes out on the steps of the college.

That morning, I'd decided that I wanted to do my assessment in my face paint. Peter still had his face paint on from that morning--though his was considerably less complex than mine. His face paint was a basic semi-transparent white.

The assessment went well. At Peter's suggestion, I'd added the artist statement, and at my assessment Peter said that as a result the project, and what I wanted to get across, was clearer.

Afterward, I went down to the washroom on the first floor (there isn't one on the second floor), and scrubbed. I managed to get rid of most of the face paint, but it was a long slog because it was piled on, colour after colour, with a face cream base under everything.

That evening, I spent about two hours making a birthday card for Lynn. Originally I thought I'd send an ecard, but when I didn't find anything that I was really happy with, I decided to go the DIY route. So I pawed through my photos from the last year, and finally settled on two different images. I played with one (a leaf), and fiddled with dodging and burning it, using a fill layer (50% grey; change the blend mode to Overlay; paint with either black or white, using the Brush tool). I wasn't too happy with the result, so I played around with the other photo, a self-portrait, adding a speech bubble using the Pen and Circular Marquee tools, as well as typing the words "Happy Birthday!!" Not to sound too "I slaved over this for hours--so you better appreciate it" (I know you're reading this, Lynn), but getting the speech bubble and the line to look the way I wanted them to was tricky as heck, mainly because I'm a perfectionist. I could see in my head how I wanted the whole thing to look, and I had to figure out how to get what was on my computer screen to match that idea.

After that came the easy part: emailing it, with a personal message for the birthday girl.

Friday: Tom's letting me borrow one of his cameras for a couple of weeks for my project, so he came up to F'ton to give me the crash course in how it works and where everything is. As I haven't used a Nikon digital camera in about five years, and the last one I used was a point 'n' shoot (this one's a gorgeous DSLR), it's an extremely steep learning curve. In some cases, I have to forget everything I know about how to operate a digital camera, because the Nikon is either backwards to what I'm used to, or has it in a different place. It's a totally different system.

Afterward, he drove me to the college, where I showed Peter what I'd be shooting with for the next couple weeks.

I then headed up to the third floor, and the Halloween party. When I got there, they were in the middle of the costume contest. After that came the results of the jack-o'-lantern contest (several categories, including Most Creative and Scariest), and the moment I'd been waiting for for about twenty-four hours: the results of the haunted studio contest. And the winner is... The textiles studio. Bummer. Though I'm sure they put in a good effort, and that their win is well worth it.

I spent the rest of the day working on homework, including doing a location lighting assignment for my Lighting class. That shoot was very interesting, as are all shoots where I've got a large set-up in a very public place. The photo studio faces both the stairwell, and the hallway that leads to the Surface Design and Fibre Arts studios, and it's next door to Administration, so there are always people coming and going--and wondering what the heck you're up to. I've learned to accept, and even enjoy situations like that.

Because Peter is having us second-year Photogs move our stuff into a new set of metal drawers, leaving the open wooden shelves for the first-year Photogs, I also devoted some time to transferring my stuff to it's new home.

Saturday: When I checked Facebook that morning, there was a status update from Occupy Fredericton saying that they need more people at the site (which is next to City Hall). So I decided that I'd take my Drawing homework outside, and physically join the Occupy movement for a couple hours--or until it got too cold.

First stop: Occupy Fredericton. After talking with some of the other Occupiers, I headed back to the college, stashed my valuables (computer, external hard drive, corresponding cables/cords) in my locker, grabbed a board from the drawing studio, clipped my homework to said board, and took the whole thing back to OF.

I spent the next two hours drawing and listening to the conversations going on around me, particularly the one going on next to me. Looks like the world's screwed for the next generation or two--thanks, 1%. As I wrote in an email to Mom last night, "if you want to learn about how the world is really run, go to the local protest. Money sure does talk [...]." The Occupy movement might as well be Economics 101. I know I'm getting one heck of an education.

After the temperature dropped enough to force me back inside, I drew for a bit longer, and then went home.

That evening was also the 11th annual Maggie Jean Chestnut Haunted House. This year's theme was a super-creepy hospital, with a psychiatric ward, a mortician who thinks that the dead speak to him, a children's ward, and a delivery room/OR. And this time, I was even a little scared, which was a first. Congratulations, MJC--took you long enough.

Sunday: They're calling it Snowtober--that storm that covered the eastern US and Canada in snow this morning. Though here in Southside F'ton the snow melted as soon as it hit the ground.

Once I got going, I spent the afternoon finishing my drawing, polishing up my business plan for Preparing for Professional Life, and working on my website for Output. And listening to CBC Radio 2 off and on because today they had eight hours of nonstop classical music to celebrate their 75th anniversary. But for me, the highlight came right at the end: Beethoven's ninth, performed by l'Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. One of my favourite symphonies by one of my favourite composers, performed by one of the best orchestras in the world? I'm in.

I hummed along with a few passages, but once the singing started, I sang the entire thing. The fourth movement always has an emotional affect on me, and this time was no different: I actually cried in a couple of places (don't tell Beethoven that). The words and the music are so beautiful and powerful. "Seid umschlungen, Millionen! / Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!" ("You millions, I embrace you! / This kiss is for all the world!")

Notice something about this week? I wasn't sick! Unlike previous first assessment weeks (FVA, first-year diploma). YIPPEEEE!

Today was the BSO's Totally Beethoven concert, so let's finish off with the fourth movement (Allegro) from the fifth symphony, which was one of the pieces on the program. For the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. Check out that awesome violin part!

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